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Feb-16-2007 00:34TweetFollow @OregonNews
Salem, Oregon Friends Ascend an Afghanistan MountainTim King, reporting from Afghanistan
DISPATCHES FROM AFGHANISTAN
(KABUL, Afghanistan) - The mountain range towering over the image of an Afghanistan soldier is called the Ghar. It is a place where Mujihadeen rebels attacked occupying Soviet forces toward the end of their war here in the 1980's.
The rugged terrain of the Ghar Mountain rises almost sixteen hundred feet above Kabul, Afghanistan.
Soldiers and other military personnel climb the Ghar regularly, and if you want to be in this mountain climber's club, you have to rise early.
When the Ghar climber's alarms sound at 4:00 AM, the majority of the soldiers at the nearby Kabul Military Training Center go on sleeping. Most say they work hard enough without volunteering for this kind of extra duty.
On this day, US military personnel are joined by Canadian soldiers, British Marines and the Scottish Highlanders.
The different views you catch as you ascend the mountain are astounding. The vivid colors of the sunrise are as surreal as an oil painting on the canvas of an Afghan sky.
The rugged natural beauty motivates these climbers to keep returning.
Afghanistan is a high country, and this mountain rises from an elevation of seven thousand feet. Even conditioned soldiers have to push hard to reach their goal, the top of the Ghar.
Major Arnold Strong Oregon Guard of Salem, Oregon says the Ghar is a challenge and it keeps them in great physical condition, "it's a climb that we get to do pretty regularly out here at the training assistance group, because out here are the ranges that the Afghan use and the Coalition members also."
Kevin Angoc of the U.S. Navy was born and raised in the tropics of Hawaii. He made it to the top but like many, huffed and puffed most of the way, "I'm thinking this is crazy, you see mountains like this in Hawaii but you don't ever think about climbing them."
Several different soldiers like Colonel Dan Hokanson of Salem, Oregon offered to carry my camera, but I kept it for the trip up. On the way down Dan packed it part of the way. I didn't want to put anyone in a bad position if something happened to it on the steep mountain.
Years of warfare have left their marks on the Ghar. Positions that are abandoned today were used by Mujihadeen fighters in the late 1980's when they ousted the Soviets from the military base at the bottom of the mountain.
Today the Ghar is peaceful, though reaching the top is no less daunting. Some who venture to climb the mountain fail to meet that goal, though everybody on this trip made it, and they all say it is a triumphant accomplishment.
The soldiers that reach the top of the Ghar Mountain in Afghanistan, more than 8500 feet above sea level, believe that it is the closest they can get to being on top of the world, on the other side of the world.
If you are interested in sponsoring a special report, direct from the 41st Combat Brigade at Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan, email: firstname.lastname@example.org DISPATCHES FROM AFGHANISTAN "SUPPORT GROUP" Love Boxes Pioneer Pacific College Salem Police Eola Hills Winery McDonalds Restaurants of Salem Nopps Jewelry and Art Eric Mason Jesse Anderson Dan and Marti Motley David and Arlene Banks Scott Smith and Margaret Sanner Roger Yost and Alessandro's Ristorante Camo and Gear Military Surplus Tom Golden of Golden’s Funeral Service Other supporters wish not to be named, but we appreciate them greatly, and each and every contribution makes a big difference.
We will continue to keep you updated on the people and organizations that support Oregon troops and are making Dispatches from Afghanistan possible.
A special THANK YOU to these Silent Auction contributors:
Extreme Velocity Paintball, Beads-a-Million, SLAB, Oak Knoll Golf Course, Best Lil Roadhouse, Los Baez, EZ Orchards, Adams Ribs Smokehouse, Willamette Queen, Thailand Restaurant, Lela Kelly, Frank Matthews and Tina Miller Thanks!
Salem-News.com is a locally owned news organization. Sponsorship of Tim's reports on Salem-News.com is very affordable with enormous exposure, and the reports will be archived complete with your commercial.
If you would like to advertise, or join the others listed who have assisted through contributions, there is still plenty of need. Help the effort to bring home the stories of Oregon soldiers.
Tim King is embedded in Kabul, Afghanistan with the 41st Combat Brigade of the Oregon National Guard. See his stories several times a week here, on Salem-News.com, and on Portland’s KPTV Fox12.
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